2019 Favorites

I seriously CANNOT believe it’s time for another round of my yearly favorites. It’s my eleventh (!!!) installment. You can catch up on past years: Here are my favorites from 200920102011201220132014201520162017, and 2018.

Also, it’s funny to re-read how I was feeling in 2018 and comparing it to how I feel now. I knew I was just in one period of life and that it wouldn’t last forever, but it’s hard to ~believe~ that while you’re in it. Especially during the second half of 2019, things began to feel incredibly secure in the best way possible. Like the dust settled and here we are.

ONE // House

1,000% the theme of this year was buying a house. The process of buying a house took pretty much the entire first half of the year. We started looking at the beginning of January, put in an offer on our house in March, and closed and moved in at the end of June! It was a ROLLERCOASTER of emotions. (I feel like you hear about how stressful buying a home can be but you don’t really get it until you go through the process yourself.)

Now, even though that January through June situation was quite stressful, once we officially moved in, everything felt completely right immediately. It feels like we’ve been here forever… it’s hard to believe half of the year we were still living in Hoboken!!! I swear every day I have at least one moment where I think, “I am SO happy.” It doesn’t feel like just a house, it truly feels like a home.

The space. The extra rooms for guests. The NATURAL LIGHT. I don’t take any of it for granted. It’s even been fun to decorate (something that doesn’t come naturally to me whatsoever).

TWO // Financials

This has been one of the craziest years financially. This is the year where I felt the most in control of my finances, instead of feeling like my finances controlled my life. A huge part of that was buying a home. Obviously cutting a check for a downpayment (and then furnishing said home) is not a “cheap” moment. But I felt so empowered because it’s not really spending money– it felt like a true investment. Mike and I were conservative in making that huge decision, buying something we could absolutely afford and what made sense for the next five-ish years of our lives. Building that equity also put us in a position where we can start to save for our forever home, without just throwing money away towards rent.

I also finally found a financial advisor that completely aligns with my values. Meeting with him and his team has made me feel so, so much more confident in my financial future. It was scary handing over bank statements (like, I think I’d rather walk down the street naked) but it was mind-blowing to see a graph that basically showed where I could be financially when I was 60 and then 90 years old and what that would mean for future generations. It put a lot into perspective.

This is so, so important. I feel like we (i.e. women) should be talking about financial health with the same enthusiasm as wrinkle prevention. It’s the same concept: what can I be doing today to make for a better future when I’m older. I mean, people are having Botox parties in their living rooms!! Why can’t we be the same about financial planning?

I can’t go into too many specifics because I’m not an expert (hence why I’m working with an expert!). But I will say, I can’t recommend finding a financial advisor enough. I met with a handful before I found one that I “clicked” with and it came through a friends’ recommendation. So ask around. Don’t feel bad if your first few people don’t pan out. Keep with it. It can help to go into the first meeting with a handful of goals (1. I want to buy a house in the next five years; 2. I want to quit my job in the next 10 and then start a business; 3. I want to set up a better retirement fund; etc.) and see how the advisor can help you. You’ll get a sense within a meeting or two if you’re “aligned.”

THREE // Yeti

I’m sure I’ll go into more detail about this when I set my goals for 2020, but the Yeti 20 Ounce travel tumblers have been a very favorite of mine for the year. If you remember, I gave up disposable coffee cups as a New Year’s resolution. I’ve used only EIGHT this entire year. (Previously, I could easily have gone through, and thrown out, eight in a week.) It’s been such a positive change and a huge reason for it is my Yeti!!!

These. Are. The. Best. They don’t seal, so it’s not an option for throwing in a tote (you can swap the lid for something leakproof). However, they keep coffee so hot for a while that I enjoy drinking from them more than a disposable cup. And committing to it hasn’t been nearly as hard as I expected it to. If I forget? I go without coffee! Simple as that. (That alone has been great motivation to remember 😉.)

FOUR  // Espresso

Speaking of coffee… I’ve been like a broken record here but one of the best things I bought for the house was a birthday present to myself: an espresso maker!!! Mike and I are both obsessed with this. It feels like such a fun grownup thing to have in the house. We mostly make it for ourselves and have come up with some cheesy nicknames for our concoctions 😂 But it’s also really nice when we have guests over. Like cappuccinos, the morning after someone spends the night? Coming right up!! A little shot after dinner? Here ya go!

After I had it for a week, one of my first thoughts was… can’t wait to put this on my 2019 favorites list! And here we are!

FIVE // Crafting

Ummm so clearly this was the year I was bitten by the crafting bug. It started when my friend Maddie showed me how to use a Cricut and then Cricut sent me a machine (CRICUT, I LOVE YOU FOREVER). Honestly, it was a slippery slope from there. My mom really encouraged creativity and crafting when we were kids. No project was too messy and no craft was too complicated. If we wanted to do it, we were allowed to do it. As I grew up, a lot of that stopped… and then something about that Cricut let me tap back into that again.

I. Love. Crafting.

It’s such a fun hobby because the options are absolutely endless. It’s fun to make something physical in a world that becomes more and more digital by the second.

After the Cricut, I tried my hand at needlepoint this summer and promptly became slightly addicted to it. I find the whole hobby to be totally and utterly relaxing. The worst part has been the needlepoint police I’ve had the pleasure of “meeting” on Instagram LOL, but let me be the loudest person in the room: ANYONE CAN DO THIS. It’s paint-by-numbers with thread, not rocket science.

From there, I got back into embroidery (something I did a lot as a kid) after co-hosting a class with Mariana from Hibiscus Linens. Again, it’s been such a relaxing activity!!

SIX // French

When I made the goal last December to “learn French.” I had no idea that it was actually something that I’d stick with. I start my morning every day with about 10-15 minutes of Duolingo to practice. While I find the app to be incredibly helpful, and definitely gets you far enough to carry a short introductory conversation with someone if you were to, say, travel to Paris, it’s not going to make you fluent overnight.

A reader reached out to me about doing tutoring with me once I moved to the suburbs and we’ve been having lessons almost every week since. Between the app and tutoring, I feel so much more confident in my knowledge of the French language.

I doubt I’ll ever be fluent. (I think I’d have to move to France and do an immersion program for a year that I will, um, never do.) But I know so much more than I did before (easy when I started with basically “bonjour” and “oui” lol). More than anything, I LOVE learning something new.

It’s a great exercise and I love that I have zero pressure– there’s no big “test” looming over my head. It’s completely and fully for me and for nothing (and no one) else.

SEVEN // Bookstagram

It’s hard to believe I only started posting on my bookstagram earlier this year. I had created the account a while ago but it lay dormant. I was inspired to just… go for it and I’m so glad I did. It’s been crazy successful for a six-month-old account! Not only do I love creating content for it and sharing my love for reading, I have also LOVED connecting with such a great community of fellow readers and book-lovers.

I also like it’s something I can do on Instagram that isn’t related to my “day job.” Although I’ve started to do sponsored posts on it (like WHAT, again it’s six months old!), I don’t consider it work whatsoever.

(PS Stay tuned because I’ll be sharing my favorite reads of 2019 the first week of January.)

EIGHT // BOP Podcast

Speaking of books, I was invited to be a guest on my friends’ podcast Bad on PaperWe recorded two episodes, one as a book club episode and another as a “Carly Unfiltered.”

I was excited to do both because I love the podcast and I love Grace and Becca! I was also pretty nervous. I really do keep a pretty tightly sealed private life, although it may not seem that way from my social media presence (and the fact that I’ve been blogging about my life since I was 19). I was ready to open up a little bit more than usual and figured that a podcast with two friends I trust was a great way to dip my toes in it.

We recorded the episode and then I waited three weeks before it launched. I got to approve a preview and I listened to it FOUR TIMES like a psychopath preemptively nit-picking it to prepare myself for potential backlash.

Then the podcast launched and I spent EIGHT HOURS responded to DMs on Instagram from you guys. As you can tell from the fact that it made it into my top ten of the year, it was a pretty powerful and overwhelming day. I’m so, so glad I did it. I think it gave me the opportunity to say things that I wanted to say without compromising the boundaries I’ve put up for myself. And more than that, it gave me an opportunity to connect with so many people who otherwise wouldn’t have sent messages/DMs.

THANK YOU Grace & Becca for inviting me and THANK YOU to everyone who listened!!

NINE // Chanel Bag

Segueing into something more materialistic… I kind of spontaneously (well, sort of) bought a Chanel back at the beginning of the year. I talked (at length) about why this was such a crazy purchase for me.

A big part of me was worried that I’d regret the purchase. It was quite extravagant and I knew we’d be buying a house and furnishing it in the coming months. And it did feel pretty spontaneous for me at the time. However, I haven’t regretted it one bit!!! I love that bag and what it symbolizes (i.e. a decade of my business). It really will be a handbag that I have for the rest of my life!

It was also such a fun day. Maddie and I were headed into the city for a girls’ day of shopping. It felt a little bit like we were on vacation in NYC not just coming in from Hoboken for regular errands. Popping into Chanel was supposed to just be for fun but then they had one bag in the exact color that I had been eyeing and… I went for it. Not sure who I thought it was, but I oscillated between like a Chanel high and “WTF was I thinking.” Once I got home and put together some outfits, I realized just how perfect it was and haven’t regretted it since!!

(The only problem? Now I kind of want a black one too. So essentially, I’ve created a monster.)

TEN // The Suburbs

Saving the best for last. THE SUBURBS.

Ugh, guys. I’m REALLY glad I did the whole college in a city thing (DC). I’m REALLY glad I lived in NYC right after graduation for a few years. But…. man, I think I was just made for the suburbs. Apparently admitting this is, like, not what people are supposed to do. I don’t care though: I love the suburbs. I feel so much more comfortable and myself out here. I like that I can still bop into the city when I need to for work, but I’m so much happier out here. I just am.

Particularly, I love Madison, the town where we moved. It’s kind of perfect? I have literally nothing to complain about. Our street is the absolute best with the friendliest people. Last week everyone did a progressive holiday party (canapes at one house, dessert at the next) and Mike and I hosted the drink portion at the end of the night. As we were cleaning up, we were saying how nice it was to have a community like this, quite literally in our backyard.

Everything is also convenient. Whereas living in a city can make anything (and everything) feel like a chore, here it’s no big deal. The airport is 25 minutes away. Target is 15 minutes away. We have a cute bookstore on a corner straight out of a movie. A new cafe opened up down the street from us. Whole Foods is six minutes away. We’re in the town between Mike’s nieces and goddaughter and we can scoot over there in the middle of the day to say hello and hang out with them whenever we want.

This is all to say: it’s the best. ❤️

And this year has been THE BEST ❤️❤️